Is HHS chief right Americans’ vaccination status is ‘absolutely the government’s business?’


Fact Box

  • On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, President Biden urged Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine as 160 million Americans will be fully vaccinated by the weekend saying, “Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door—literally knocking on doors.” 
  • Biden’s administration plans to equip 42,000 local pharmacies, make vaccines available through primary care doctors, give Americans more options for vaccination sites, and send out mobile clinics. 
  • On Thursday, July 8, 2021, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced “it is absolutely the government’s business” to know Americans’ vaccination status based off the idea that the government spent trillions to save the American people. Later, he stated that the “government has no database tracking who is vaccinated.”
  • Many Republicans have pushed back, like Rep. Dan Crenshaw, saying, “You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?”

Stephanie (No) 

Americans are entitled to certain privacies regarding their health. Just because the COVID-19 pandemic escalated into a global issue that virtually everyone was talking about does not mean the government suddenly has the authority to interfere in its citizens’ lives regarding the vaccine. Yet, that is what is expected to occur under President Joe Biden’s recently announced plan to expand a door-to-door campaign promoting individuals to get vaccinated.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra defended the campaign in making the outlandish claim that Americans’ vaccination status is “absolutely the government’s business” when it is certainly not. “Knocking on a door has never been against the law,” Becerra stated, which is true. However, even if government officials inquiring about one’s status does not necessarily violate HIPAA laws or Constitutional rights, it approaches a fine line and screams overreach and tyranny.

To this claim, Becerra, who is not a medical doctor, responded that it is the government’s business since it “had to spend trillions of dollars to try to keep Americans alive during this pandemic.” Yet, it is hardly comforting to assure the population that because the government made many of its citizens financially dependent on it, it somehow has the right to intervene in such a way.

Texas Representative Ronny Jackson referred to this mentality as “socialist, Marxist, [and] communist.” Commentator Tucker Carlson added that the federal government funds countless programs to fight other diseases. Yet, it does not pressure citizens to reveal their health information to authorities or undergo treatment for them. Becerra’s recent statement raises many red flags—if the government is now inquiring about private health information, what will it demand next?

Joanna (Yes) 

It’s right to say vaccination status is the government’s business because the business of the government is its citizens’ wellness. Most Americans believe the COVID-19 vaccination is tending to that business by protecting them. The government can help in the process by providing information, easing access to the vaccine, and keeping statistics on vaccination statuses. This is no different from government-led canvassing, which records citizens’ personal statuses and provides helpful information. Many Americans also remember receiving school-mandated vaccinations, and the government is keeping up with such practices by encouraging COVID-19 vaccination. 

However, the federal government will not be doing any physical door-to-door labor, according to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said it will instead be done by “local trusted messengers, doctors, faith leaders, community leaders”. Regarding individual inoculation, she said, “the federal government does not have a database of who’s been vaccinated.”

Therefore there’s no sure way to know who’s vaccinated, yet many American businesses have re-opened, increasing the spread risk. Having a government-approved method to prove vaccination would help everyone know their level of safety. Concerning proof of vaccination, Becerra said that Biden is “open to moving any direction we can to help Americans get safe,” but also that the administration has “allowed the determine how best to approach people in their neighborhoods.”

Accepting the government’s help regarding the current health crisis also makes avoiding another budget-busting lockdown much easier, as trillions of dollars have already gone towards stabilizing the nation during the pandemic. A government-aided vaccination process could save our country from economic turmoil as well as help save American lives.

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